What we’ve learned living in a new house

We (my boyfriend and I) have been living in our new house for a month now. It is both an exciting and weird experience. It feels as if we went back to school times – dorm lives with all the hardships and almost puritan moderation. The house is empty for the most part: we left all the old furniture behind and decided to start from scratch. The purchase of new furniture is put on hold – we are doing a ton of renovation in the house. How did this move change our lives?

Well, first of all, it made us see the world from a different angle, literally. In our mid-30s, we found ourselves sleeping on the mattress, right on the floor. No bed frame, no box spring. It is so low that we feel like we are sleeping on a very, very, very soft floor. It is handy now because there are no night stands, so we put everything on the floor, next to the bed, within our reach. Without all these luxuries, we have learned to live outside of our comfort zone, and it has made us accept new things and unexpected changes with more ease. It puts everything into perspective and makes you appreciate things more when you find yourself deprived of them. Even as it is as simple as a real bed in your room.

Second, as we do not have nightstands, there are no nightstand lamps. The only light fixture available at the moment is a poor light bulb in the ceiling. So we read less before sleep. We talk more though. And I think it is better for the relationships. Back in the old times, when people did not have electricity, they had no choice but to have long bedtime conversations. I am sure my boyfriend really appreciates this time before our sleep when I talk about all sorts of things that come to my mind. And he just listens and listens and listens, desperately hoping to fall asleep.

Third, we have learned to be extra cautious. All of our outlets are exposed. We’re changing the trims, the baseboards, the outlet cases, the wall plates. We have to be extra careful of not sticking fingers into the wrong places as it can result in an electric shock – and this will definitely change our lives.

Fourth is closely related to the third one: we’ve learned how to walk with almost closed eyes at night. Parts of our floor are missing. Some hardwood is ripped off. In some places, there is only plywood or a hole (hello, the room below!). There are tools and equipment everywhere. After hitting a staple gun on the way to the bathroom in the middle of the night, I have now learned how to walk like a cat, extremely slowly with smooth and fluid movements. Grace and coordination are life skills important during any renovation period.

Fifth, we took all the blinds out as there is too much dust from the renovation. As a result, we feel like we are living on display, especially when it is a night time and we cannot see anything outside, but all the neighbours walking by can see everything that is happening in our house. It is almost like a reality show, and we are the main stars of it. So, you know, you learn to be decent, modest, and, most importantly, dressed at all times.

Sixth, as we are redoing the mud room, we cannot use the laundry. It taught us to appreciate any clean clothes. When you don’t have a choice, you don’t think how this pair of jeans does not flatter you or how this shirt looks bad on you. It is clean, it does not smell like paint, you put it on and persuade yourself how good you look in it.

Finally, we have learned to accept the constant mess in our life and not freak out about it. We have tons of dust from scraping popcorn ceilings. We have million of boxes of unpacked stuff because there is nowhere to put it. We do not have basic furniture. Our walls are covered with drywall mud. We have a bee nest under the house. Holes in the floor, spiders in the basement, and squirrels everywhere around the house. It is complete madness. Mayhem, insanity. Yes, renovation equals chaos, but it is something that makes a house home. Our home – from the first nail to the last dab of paint.

Hello, Fear

Are you familiar with this type of fear? Do you remember how it feels every time?

You wake up in the morning, and it is right there already. You think about it, and your palms become hot and sweaty. Your heart starts pounding like a hammer inside the body. Every beat resonates in your mind. Your stomach gets twisted like Twizzlers, and you don’t know how to untangle it. The face starts to itch. A bit of rash on the skin. You sweat. You feel your shirt gets wet and sticks to your chest and arms. The clothes become your second skin, but it does not help or protect you from the fear. Inhumane, animal fear. You cannot think rationally. You repeat word by word, phrase by phrase, and nothing seems to hang in your mind. It is empty, a canvas. Fear erases all the logical thoughts. Your brain knows only one thing: “I am scared!”

You move in a rush. Hustle, hustle, hustle. You know you need to stop to calm down, so you try meditation. Some good relaxation song to pause the racing mind. But all in vain: it agitates you even more. The quieter the song is, the more thoughts are on your noisy mind. The struggle goes on. You talk to someone instead: your friend, your mom, your boyfriend. They say wise, encouraging words, but nothing changes the fact. You are scared. Scared to death. You try to let the feeling go, like Sedona Method says. You acknowledge the fear, plunge into it, and embrace it. It does calm you for a minute, but then your mind escapes again. And you feel hopeless. Tortured a bit.

You finish your morning routine. Driving eases you for a moment. But once you enter the building, you start trembling again. Your guts shake inside. You step in the room. You see hundreds of eyes. You settle the table. The presentation is on. You open your mouth and say: “Well, hello, Fear. Here we are again, face to face.” And the Fear answers: “My pleasure. Enjoy your presentation. Until next time.”

And then it leaves, the fear of public speaking. Until the next time. And you don’t miss it all.

September

A month of new beginnings – the end of summer hopes. The smell of cold, wet grass and yellow leaves. Dark outside, and sunless sky. Small drops of dew on face and skin. And rain boots – waiting at the entrance.

Forget about work. It’s time to snuggle. A blanket, feet to feet, and warming laughter underneath. A perfect chance to take long baths. To drink macchiato, to sip mulled wine. Forget about work. Remember, it’s September.

You say goodbye to summer shorts. No need for sunscreen, no more mosquitoes on the skin. School buses drive in all directions. Another start, another failure. Too serious, too regular.

An in-between – still time for leisure. Amazing colors. Guilty pleasures – hot chocolate and pecan pies. Fresh goals, a meaningful adventure. September is a month of wonder. The only time to stop and ponder.